So it’s that time of the year again when we give thanks at thanksgiving and other holidays such as Hanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa creeping up as well. Whether it’s your turn to host family and friends this year or put the company’s holiday party together, one of your most important goals is to ensure that everyone has a good time. There’s no need for getting overwhelmed about all the details that need to come into play. Having a step by step plan will help narrow down the stress entailed in planning holiday parties. Below are a few tips on how to go about planning your fun filled, stress free holiday party.

1. Know who your guests are and when they will be able to attend your party. For private parties, if you’re inviting guests from out of town or guests with busy schedules, you want to ensure they can make it on the date you set for your party. It’s a good idea to call ahead of time and have a feel for when your guests will be ready to party. You don’t want to go through the stress of preparing a venue, gifts or food without a proper headcount. For company parties, a survey can be sent to employees to fill out to get a headcount; a simple RSVP email will also do the trick. This will help you decide the size of venue to reserve and how many holiday gifts to order for your employees.

2. Great food is an important ingredient for a lovely holiday party. We all know the holidays are all about eating, eating and more good eating! Your guests will stay happy with great food and great drinks. If you’re not hosting a lot of guests at your home, you can either prepare the food yourself, have a caterer cook some of the food or have some of your guests bring a few of their favorite dishes. For parties being hosted at event venues, be sure to go to a food tasting so there are no surprises on the day of your party. The food doesn’t necessarily have to be extravagant or lush if you’re on a low budget; you can stick with seasonal recipes to avoid high cost.

3. Go away from the normal tradition. Your guests are used to the same type of setting and games every year. Plan an unusual theme for your holiday party, it will get your guests talking and will keep the party interesting. Incorporate games that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the holidays but can still be appropriate in your type of setting. You can also play other types of festive music instead of having “Feliz Navidad” playing back to back all night!. For companies, it’s okay to stay away from the usual holiday party. Choose a fun theme like an award s themed party where you can be professional, fun but will still allow people talk and mingle.

4. Don’t wait till the last minute. To avoid stress while getting ready for your holiday party, you have to plan ahead. You must have a to do list from the day you decide on having your gathering. Try writing everything down so you don’t miss out on anything. Once it starts getting close to your event date and you still have a lot to do, delegate to other family members or friends. This will take a few of the planning stress off your shoulders.

5. If you’re feeling overwhelmed hire a professional. If you’re hosting a very big party and all the details are beginning to wear you down, don’t hesitate to hire a party planner who can execute your event in a seamless and stress-free manner.